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Which machines will be going head-to-head in our Duel series? It's time to find out in today's Big Reveal.
B-52 Stratofortress vs SA-2 ‘Guideline’ SAM
The losses of several of its most feared, powerful and supposedly invincible bombers per night to a torrent of Soviet missiles during the closing stages of the Vietnam War was sobering to Americans, but the B-52s’ crushing attacks virtually eliminated North Vietnam’s defences and forced a peace settlement. Originally designed to protect the B-52 in its long-ranging nuclear attacks, at both high and low altitudes, the bomber’s comprehensive ECM suites were the finest available. With the addition of chaff ‘corridors’ dropped ahead of the bombers to fool enemy radars, the massive waves of B-52s taking part in Arc Light and Linebacker attacks were able to survive the most hostile missile launches. This book will analyse the roles of the SA-2 operators and the B-52 Electronic Warfare Officers (EWOs) and traces the cat-and-mouse tactics that each side employed. The shortcomings of ECM equipment in the B-52G are explained, and there are first-hand accounts from B-52 crew members and SA-2 operators of combat involving B-52s and SAMs. EWOs from more recent conflicts share their experiences and explain how ECM systems have evolved and improved since the 1960s.
F6F Hellcat vs N1K1/2 Shiden/Shiden-Kai: 1945
By the early months of 1945 in the Pacific, the US Navy’s burgeoning force of carrier-based F6F-3/5 Hellcats had pretty much wiped the skies clear of Japanese fighters during a series of one-sided aerial engagements during the highly successful ‘island hopping’ campaign towards Japan’s Home Islands. It had proven itself the master of the Imperial Japanese Naval Air Force’s A6M Zero-sen, and had also beaten its replacement, the rarely seen J2M Raiden, on the few occasions it was encountered in 1944. However, in October of that year in the skies over Formosa and the Philippines, a new radial-engined machine was fleetingly engaged in a series of bitter actions that resulted in Hellcat units suffering uncharacteristically high losses. The type they had encountered was the Kawanishi N1K1-J Shiden – a fighter privately developed by the manufacturer from its N1K Kyofu floatplane fighter. Only a small number were built, and these suffered from engine maladies – a common affliction for late-war Japanese fighters. By early 1945, production examples of the improved N1K2-J Shiden-Kai had started to reach a newly formed unit, the 343rd Kokutai, staffed by combat veterans and charged with defending the Japanese Home Islands. Its pilots would duly claim more than 170 aerial victories with the aeroplane over Kyushu and whilst escorting Kamikazes attacking Allied ships off Okinawa. A number of these victories were over carrier-based F6F Hellcats, literally hundreds of which flew marauding strikes over Japan from February 1945 through to war’s end. US Navy Hellcat pilots in turn were credited with many of the 100+ Shiden-Kais that were downed attempting to defend Japan.
P-39/P-400 Airacobras vs A6M2/3 Zero-sen: New Guinea 1942
After the huge advances made in the early months of the Pacific war, it was in remote New Guinea where the advance of Imperial Japanese Naval Air Force (IJNAF) A6M Zero-sen fighters was first halted due to a series of offensive and defensive aerial battles ranging from treetop height up to 30,000 ft.
Initially, Australian Kittyhawks were pitted against the IJNAF, but by May 1942 they had fought themselves into oblivion, and were relieved by USAAF P-39 and P-400 Airacobras. The battles unfolded over mountainous terrain with treacherous tropical weather. Neither IJNAF or USAAF pilots had been trained for such extreme conditions, incurring many additional losses aside from those that fell in combat. Using specially commissioned artwork and contemporary photographs and testimony, this fascinating study explains how, despite their initial deficit in experience and equipment, the Airacobras managed to square the ledger and defend New Guinea.
Zeppelin vs British Home Defence 1916–18
When Ferdinand Graf von Zeppelin’s rigid airship LZ 1 flew over Lake Constance in 1900, it was the most advanced and impressive flying machine in the world: a colossal, lighter-than-air craft capable of controlled flight. In World War I, Zeppelins were first used in a reconnaissance role, but on 19 January 1915 Kaiser Wilhelm II authorised their use in bombing strategic targets in England.
From then on, ‘Zeppelin’ became synonymous with terror to the British, and indeed the airship's effectiveness was more psychological than material. Still, their raids compelled the Royal Flying Corps and Royal Naval Air Service to embark on a program of modernising their aerial defences, accelerating a process that would ultimately make the aeroplane, rather than the airship, the paramount flying machine of the war. Using specially commissioned artwork, contemporary photographs and first-hand accounts, this book tells the fascinating story of Britain’s first Blitz from the airships who terrorised the public to the men who sought to defend the skies.
RAF Fighters vs Luftwaffe Bombers: Battle of Britain
The Battle of Britain was a fight for survival against a seemingly unstoppable foe. With the German army poised to invade, only the fighters of the Royal Air Force stood between Hitler and the conquest of Britain. Losses were high on both sides, but the Spitfires, Hurricanes, Havocs and Defiants of the RAF began to take their toll on the overextended, under-protected Kampfgruppen of Heinkel He 111s, Junkers Ju 87s and 88s, and Dornier Do 17s.
Both sides learned and adapted as the campaign went on. As the advantage began to shift from the Luftwaffe to the RAF, the Germans were forced to switch from round-the-clock bombing to only launching night-raids, often hitting civilian targets in the dreaded Blitz. This beautifully illustrated study dissects the tactics and technology of the duels in this new kind of war, bringing the reader into the cockpits of the RAF fighters and Luftwaffe bombers to show precisely where the Battle of Britain was won and lost.
British Destroyer vs German Destroyer
The opening months of World War II saw Britain’s Royal Navy facing a resurgent German navy, the Kriegsmarine. Following the German invasion of Denmark and Norway in early April 1940, British and German destroyers would clash in a series of battles for control of the Norwegian coast. The operational environment was especially challenging, with destroyer crews having to contend with variable weather, narrow coastal tracts and possibility of fog and ship breakdowns.
As part of the invasion effort, the Germans sent ten destroyers carrying 1,900 mountain troops to capture the vital port of Narvik on the Norwegian coast on 9 April. Having encountered scattered resistance, the German destroyer flotilla was forced to loiter and refuel there, with resupply taking longer than anticipated as the wider campaign intensified. On 10 April five British destroyers entered the harbour and surprised the Germans, sinking two Kriegsmarine destroyers and damaging three more before withdrawing; two British destroyers were lost. On 13 April, nine British destroyers accompanied by a battleship and air support re-entered Narvik harbour, sinking three German destroyers and forcing the surviving vessels to scuttle. In all, ten German destroyers were lost, halving at a stroke the number at Hitler’s disposal.
Cromwell vs Jagdpanzer IV: Normandy 1944
By 1944, the evolution of armoured doctrine had produced very different outcomes in Britain and Germany. Offering a good balance of speed, protection and firepower, the British Cromwell tank was much faster than its German opponent, but the Jagdpanzer IV tank destroyer had a high-velocity main gun and a lower profile that made it formidable on the defensive, especially in ambush situations. The two types would fight in a series of bloody encounters, from the initial days of the struggle for Normandy through to its climax as the Allies sought to trap their opponents in the Falaise Pocket.
Sagger Anti-Tank Missile vs M60 Main Battle Tank: Yom Kippur War 1973
The 1973 Yom Kippur War rewrote the textbook on the tactics of modern armored warfare. Unlike the previous major Arab-Israeli war of 1967, the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) faced an enemy that had invested heavily in modern Soviet weapon systems and tactics.
This addition to the Duel series explains how the effective use of the Soviet-supplied AT-3 Sagger (9M14 Malyutka) anti-tank missile allowed small Arab tank-killing teams to destroy Israeli armor at an astonishing rate. It also analyses the tank that opposed it, the US-built M60A1, which had to fight for survival against the Arab Saggers, and shows how in both the Sinai and the Golan Heights, the IDF quickly learned that firepower and infantry/artillery cooperation were the keys to their survival.
USN Fleet Destroyer vs IJN Fleet Submarine: The Pacific 1941–43
The key premise of Japanese naval strategy leading up to the Pacific War was that a decisive fleet engagement would be fought against the United States Navy in the western Pacific. Outnumbered by the USN, the Imperial Japanese Navy planned to use its large, ocean-going submarines to inflict attrition on its opponent before the grand battle. In order to accomplish this, the IJN’s submarine force was tasked to perform extended reconnaissance of the USN’s battle fleet, even in port, and then shadow and attack it.
The commonly accepted conclusion is that IJN submarines were ineffective in their primary mission of attacking major USN fleet units. Nevertheless, Japanese submarines did this on several occasions in 1941–42 at little cost to themselves. This book examines whether the common wisdom is true.
As always, do discuss below which titles are taking your interest! Which Duel will win the battle to be on your shelf?